Real Name: Leo Joseph Koury
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Murder, Attempted Murder, Arson, Fraud, Extortion
Missing Since: October 1978
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: Businessman Leo Koury was placed on the FBI's Ten Most wanted for murder, attempted murder, extortion, assault, racketeering, fraud and arson; he is a fugitive on the run from the law and has not been seen since October 1978.
On March 19, 1975, a bodyguard named Chuck Kernaghan was murdered in his home in Richmond, Virginia. His body was placed in a trunk, driven to the Rappahannock River, weighed down with the bumper from a '57 Chevrolet, and thrown off the side of a boat. This information is based on police informants, as Chuck's body has never been found. Authorities believe Koury was responsible for this contract killing. During this time, Koury was also a softball coach, church volunteer, loving husband and father, and member of the American Legion. Of course, many were surprised when he was accused of all of these crimes.
Koury was also a successful restaurant owner who was fiercely competitive. He allegedly tried to drive business out of other restaurants by sending "thugs" to terrorize the patrons. On January 15, 1977, two of Koury's "thugs" shot multiple patrons at the Male Box restaurant. One man, Albert Thomas, was killed and several others were injured. An investigation revealed that Koury was at the center of an extensive racketeering enterprise. In other words, he ran an organization whose primary income was through illegal purposes, whether it be fraud, extortion, or murder.
While the FBI suspected that Koury was responsible, they could not indict him because his "inner circle" was extremely loyal. Authorities learned that Koury and his men often targeted vulnerable groups such as the local gay community as victims of his scams and extortions. In October of 1977, Koury asked Eddie Loehr to make a hit on restaurant owner Jim Hilliard. Koury's scheme backfired, however, when authorities found Loehr hiding outside of Hilliard's home. Loehr confessed to the police and named Koury as the man who hired him. He said that Koury wanted Hilliard dead to remove him from competition in the restaurant business.
Loehr agreed to work with the FBI. He was equipped with a hidden microphone and the FBI secretly recorded a conversation with Koury for their investigation. During the conversation, he told Loehr to not tell anyone about their "business". Based on the surveillance tapes, on October 31, 1978, Koury was indicted by a grand jury on various charges. However, he vanished from the Richmond area on October 30, the day before the indictment was made. On April 20, 1979, he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. He has been on the run ever since.
Since his disappearance, Koury has been sighted on the East Coast, in Brazil, and the Middle East. A $25,000 reward is being offered by the FBI.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on Special #1 on January 20, 1987 in a FBI fugitive roll call. It was covered in more detail in a full segment on the January 18, 1989 episode. It was also featured on America’s Most Wanted.
Results: Solved. On June 16, 1991, while still on the run, Koury died of a massive stroke as a result of diabetes at a San Diego Hospital. He had been living under the name of William Franklin Bittle. The hospital received an anonymous phone call stating that the deceased man was not Bittle, but was actually Leo Koury. The FBI was brought in; they made a positive identification and officially closed the case.
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